When speaking about the UK lockdown, the experts at Helping Hands say “…perhaps one of the most difficult things that we’ve had to get used to is being unable to pop into your mum’s for a cup of tea or not being able to simply hug beloved grandchildren.” As a result of the pandemic, technology has become an essential part of how we remain connected and intertwined within our friends and families lives, enabling us to work from home using video-conferencing apps like Zoom to escape the issues that are currently facing society.
However, concerns of social isolation and loneliness in elderly individuals have highlighted the digital divide, and the dire need for innovative solutions to help “make healthy changes to your lifestyle” and protect the 50% of people over the age of 60, who are unfortunately at the most risk of experiencing loneliness despite the technological innovations we have now accepted at a societal level.
5 Ways Tech is Bringing Families Together
1. Stay connected despite geographical distance:
With over 4.5 billion people worldwide now accessing the internet on a daily basis, staying connected has never been easier and has given us the opportunity to travel worldwide whilst remaining in touch with close friends and family. This significantly benefits grandparents who may not physically be able to travel with you, providing them with ways to keep up to date through a plethora of high-quality images, videos and live streams that can create shared experiences for them to enjoy. In addition to this, through the development and implementation of 5G devices and networks, grandparents can connect with family and friends in real-time without experiencing delays, which can often reduce their confidence and limit their ability to adopt new technologies.
2. Experience and appreciate what others take for granted:
The ability to leverage technology as we do and perceive its usefulness has always been a huge barrier for older generations, as the development of technology and innovative solutions have begun to leave them behind without enabling them to catch up. However, now more than ever, technology is providing tangible benefits for grandparents and the elderly in ways they could have never imagined.
For example, with one in three people globally over the age of 65 experiencing vision reduction due to disease, a direct association between depression and a decreased ability to perform well in daily life has been identified due to the high costs of treatment and potentially unsuccessful solutions. However, with the Near-Sighted VR Augmented Aid app and image stabilisation, one woman has been able to see her grandchildren’s faces for the first time in 10 years and was remarkably able to read them a story, where she experienced a profound amount of joy and appreciation towards immersive technologies for enabling a seemingly normal experience (see video).
3. Intergenerational learning:
As the younger generations become better equipped to live in a digitised world, they are blurring the lines of tradition by providing the support their grandparents need to adopt technology. This learning process gives grandparents a great deal of time where they can speak to their grandchildren one-to-one and build stronger relationships. Not only that, grandparents have the opportunity to share their life experiences and provide their grandchildren with important life lessons that are often excluded from trending topics on social media; like how to plant seeds, how to be a good person and also how important it is to try new things.
4. Smart technology:
Adopting smart home technology has become an essential part of feeling safe and secure in your own home, which is particularly important for grandparents, who despite diminishing ability to move around and perform everyday tasks, prefer to remain at home in a comfortable setting than move into care-homes. Through the implementation of smart home technology, however, many of these tasks can be automated and controlled using hand gestures and voice activation making it easier for the elderly to adopt. For example, the Amazon Echo enables users to turn lights on and off, adjust temperatures on the thermostat, check the weather and traffic, lock and unlock doors, set timers for medication whilst also allowing family members to check on them using cameras.
5. Unlimited storage, sharing and resource capabilities:
The development of cloud-based storage has revolutionised the health-care industry, being able to monitor patients at home throughout the day to ensure their wellbeing whilst also reducing the overall cost of older patient care. In addition to this, our grandparents now have the ability to research new concepts and ideas to learn through the internet, where they can see reviews to increase their trust to overcome anxiety. These technological solutions are vital during these unprecedented times where older generations have limited access to their friends and family, enabling them to capture, save and share memories in a place that is convenient for them.